6:45 pm: It’s a minor league contract, reports Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter link). He’ll report to Triple-A Rochester.
3:19 pm: The Nationals are signing veteran utilityman Derek Dietrich, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). Robert Murray of FanSided previously reported the sides were closing in on an agreement.
Dietrich signed a minor league deal with the Yankees over the offseason and spent most of the year with their top affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He took 215 trips to the plate with the RailRiders and hit .215/.413/.393 with five home runs. Dietrich’s deal contained an opt-out clause, which he triggered last week upon not being added to the major league roster.
The blend of left-handed power, strong walk and hit-by-pitch rates, and high strikeout totals he showed at Triple-A has become typical in recent seasons. Between 2019-20, Dietrich tallied 381 MLB plate appearances and posted a .189/.332/.462 line with 24 homers.
It’s unconventional production, but Dietrich generally offers solid results on the whole. By measure of wRC+, he’s been an above-average hitter in every year since his 2013 rookie campaign, with the free bases and power enough to compensate for the very low batting averages. Dietrich’s also shown some defensive flexibility, appearing at each of first, second and third base and in the corner outfield over the course of his career. Advanced defensive metrics have never been fond of his work at any position, but he’s at least been versatile enough for teams to find ways to plug his bat into the lineup.
The Nationals depth has been challenged in recent weeks. Primary utility infielder Jordy Mercer landed on the injured list with a quad strain last week. More notably, slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber suffered an apparently significant hamstring injury that seems likely to require an extended absence. The Nats have relied on Josh Harrison in left field in recent days, pressing Alcides Escobar into action at second base. That has left the Nats without a true backup infielder — excluding Ryan Zimmerman, who’s limited to first base at this point in his career.